about   |   writing   |   archives

10 Places to Rest Your Head

High Atlas Mountains: stroll
 

It’s been quite the ~year for travel, with as many days on the road/skies/mountain trails as off. The two things that have the biggest impact on keeping things manageable (amongst the swirl of jetlag, deadlines and foreign climes) are meaningful human interactions and having somewhere interesting to rest your head. Work largely dictates the former and provides space and direction to seeking out the new, the informed, and the downright quirky. When it comes to accommodation I prefer to seek out the best local service on offer or get as close to whatever is happening in the locale where we’re working, doing whatever it takes to avoid the kind of places that appear on approved corporate accommodation options.

The following list is geared towards short stays and team decompression rather than, say building a popup studio or some other live/work space where team dynamics are more important. Travelling from east to west.

Starting in Tokyo where Claska [1] continues to offer the serenity of traditional and modern Japan + artsy rooms, only complimented by a compelling design store on the second floor. Lying outside the Yamanote line in Meguro-ku its location acts as a decent people-filter. Rent a bike and ride to Nakameguro and beyond in 15 minutes, or explore Tokyo’s premier furniture neighbourhood.

In Beijing the Opposite House [2] is self-confident, China at its best with the right balance of wood, whites and superior service. For a China off-the beaten track experience Aishamen serves up organic food with the host farm-family [3]. The area is overrun with Chinese tourists in the day (a sight to behold) before giving way to the chirping of crickets and the glow of fire fies. A few thousand k west and you’ll be at the beginning of the Tibetan Plateau – an eight hour drive from Chengdu plus two days of trekking with horse and guide will bring you to remote Minya Gongkka [4]. Add a few days to acclimatise and reduce the risk of altitude sickness (for those of you that prefer to be sheltered by wood-beams than a single skin try the Minya Kongka Gompa).

On the outskirts of Jaipur The Farm [5] delivers a moment of calm to break up the best dusty Indian road-trip. And a short hop over to Kabul the
Gandamack Lodge serves up a rich palette of history with good security – the geo-politically minded will apprecaite that it’s just down the road from the Iranian embassy.

I’ve long given up on good service in Europe, so its a pleasure to stay in two hotels that surprised: over in Amsterdam The Canal House [6] serves up the right blend of old-Master and modern Dutch; while in London the Zetter Townhouse [7] delivers understated historical-quirky Britain with attention to details and without Victorian plumbing.

In Kajo Keji, South Sudan Aunties Guest House [8] proves that bed + clean sheets + a smile can win the day, especially after much 4-wheel-drivedness, while in Morocco the Kasbah du Toubkal [9] serves up a traditional fare with stunning views of the High Atlas Mountains in one direction and the Imili Valley in the other. It also serves as a model for sustainable tourism in a fragile mountain environment.

Stateside Hotel San Jose [10] in Austin; and the Ace Hotel [10.1] in Portland both know what they want and deliver it with abandon.

Stay local, travel interesting.

Photo? Imlil in Morocco on one of the many trails that head out from the Kasbah du Toubkal – with the 4,167 meter Toubkal in the background.

The Instagram photo-map gives a reasonable sense of geographic spread from the last year with the proviso that some of the more interesting places such as South Sudan, Afghanistan and parts of China are off-grid, and resolutely non-geotaggable.